Breakthrough Greater Boston awarded $2 million grant through The Biogen Foundation’s STAR Initiative

June 19, 2018

Breakthrough Greater Boston was awarded a $2 million grant from the Biogen Foundation as part of its newly announced STAR Initiative. With this transformative investment, the Biogen Foundation becomes the lead investor in Breakthrough’s three-year, $9 million Growth Campaign. This is the largest grant received by Breakthrough Greater Boston in its 26-year history.

The Biogen Foundation’s STAR Initiative is a coordinated funding strategy to invest $10 million over four years to catalyze the development of local STEM ecosystems in Cambridge and Somerville. STAR (which stands for Science, Teacher support, Access and Readiness) is intended to strengthen and support the educational landscapes in these cities by increasing access to STEM resources and opportunities for students most underrepresented in STEM college or career pathways.

“Breakthrough is honored and humbled to have been selected as one of the Biogen Foundation’s STAR Initiative partners,” Executive Director Elissa Spelman reflected. “When we first heard about the STAR Initiative, we were impressed by the lofty, vitally important goals set forth. We were also excited to apply, knowing that we could contribute in each of the four identified areas of focus: STEM learning, STEM mentoring, college access and teacher training. We very much look forward to working alongside Biogen and these other great education organizations to advance students and teachers across Cambridge and Somerville.”

The timing of the Biogen Foundation grant was optimal, aligning with the launch of Breakthrough’s three-year, $9 million Growth Campaign that will help to propel the organization forward in three key ways. First, it will fund geographic growth that will dramatically increase Breakthrough’s impact across Boston, Cambridge and Somerville: when all three sites are fully enrolled, the organization will serve as many as 900 students and 200 teachers annually. Second, it will make possible important programmatic developments to better serve students in all three campuses.  Finally, it will build organizational capacity and underwrite planning efforts to ensure a bright and sustainable future for Breakthrough Greater Boston.

Spelman added, “We are immensely grateful for Biogen’s support and for their significant impact on deserving students in Greater Boston. We look forward to continuing to broaden and deepen our work, with Biogen as a vital partner in that effort.”

For more information about Breakthrough’s Growth Campaign visit

About Breakthrough Greater Boston
Breakthrough Greater Boston transforms urban education for students and teachers. Through six years of intensive, tuition-free, out of school time programming, Breakthrough changes students’ academic trajectories and supports them along the path to four-year college. Simultaneously, Breakthrough builds careers in education through an unparalleled teacher training program for college-aged students that features competitive recruitment, research-based training, and daily coaching from master teachers. Breakthrough’s unique Students Teaching Students model inspires college students to become the next generation of urban educators and students to become college graduates.

Visit to learn more.

About Biogen Foundation

The Biogen Foundation supports access to science education and to essential human services for children and their families in the communities in which Biogen facilities are located. The Biogen Foundation is committed to sparking a passion for science and discovery, supporting effective science education initiatives, and strengthening efforts to make science education and science careers accessible to diverse populations.

The Biogen Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that focus on providing access to:

  • Hands-on science education
  • Teacher development opportunities in science
  • College readiness and support
  • Basic social needs (child hunger, poverty, and social mobility)